BATANG Gilas finally broke through in the win column at the FIBA U17 Basketball World Cup, edging Egypt, 70-69, in their classification game on Sunday morning (Manila time) at the Technological University Stadium in Santa Fe, Argentina.
While they are already out of the running for a podium finish, the Philippine national boys team continued to display a go-getting mentality against the Egyptians that it was accordingly rewarded for.
Kai Sotto sustained his stellar showing in the tournament, finishing with 28 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks to lead Batang Gilas to the win in a game it had control of for much of the time.
Gerry Abadiano had 15 points while Rence Padrigao and Rence Cortez had 10 each.
Aly Kalifa paced Egypt with 17 points.
Batang Gilas had it solid in the opening quarter but a so-so third quarter allowed Egypt some window to claw its way back.
Egypt continued to put pressure on the young Filipino players in the final quarter but the latter would stand their ground.
Two free throws by Sotto with 13 seconds to go in the game gave Batang Gilas a 70-66 lead but a triple by Mazen Ibrahim with five seconds to go pulled Egypt to within one point, 70-69.
Abadiano was fouled thereafter.
He would miss both charities given to him, leaving the window open for the Egyptians to snatch the win.
Omar Morsy’s three-point attempt as time expired though failed to hit the mark, handing the win to the Philippines.
The victory thrust Batang Gilas to a meeting with New Zealand today for the 13th spot in the 16-team field. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo